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Coca-Cola beats earnings estimates, signals recovery from COVID-19 pandemic

Brian Sozzi
·Anchor, Editor-at-Large
·2-min read
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Coca-Cola (KO) sees some light at the end of the tunnel after battling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic for more than a year. 

The beverage giant said on its first quarter earnings release on Monday global unit case volume in March was back to 2019 levels, paced by people continuing to consume more food at home during the pandemic. Coke highlighted strength in its trademark Coke brand, sparkling beverages and juice and nutrition products. The company warned, however, that the recovery from the worst of the pandemic remains "asynchronous around the world." Sales weakness continued to be felt in off-premise locations such as restaurants and sporting venues. 

"I think it's a great rebuilding of the momentum, getting back to pre-pandemic levels of volume in March. It's a testament to the work on the marketing, the innovation, working with our bottlers to execute. So it is really good momentum," Coca-Cola chairman and CEO James Quincey told Yahoo Finance Live.

Here is how Coca-Cola performed compared to Wall Street estimates.

  • Operating Revenue: $9 billion vs. $8.56 billion

  • Diluted EPS: 55 cents a share vs. 50 cents a share

Coke reiterated its full-year sales outlook for a high-single digit percentage year-over-year gain. Earnings growth continues to be pegged at high-single digits to low-double digits.

Coke shares rose slightly in afternoon trading Monday morning.

The somewhat upbeat comments come as Coke beat Wall Street sales and profit forecasts for the first quarter on the back of volume growth in Asia and cost cuts. Coke's operating profits rose by double-digit percentages in all regions, except for a 10% drop in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Quincey, warned however, that the recovery from the pandemic will likely be uneven. 

"As we look into the rest of the year, we have got this uncertainty factor which has certainly weighed on the away from home business as much as we have adapted and found new ways to push the business forward," Quincey explained. 

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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